My very first memories are when I was about three or four years old. We lived in the Mission House at Cuvu, right opposite the causeway to the now Fijian Resort. This is where my father took the rake down one day at low tide and cleared a spot for swimming, with a lot of little paths. Footpaths under the water!! This absolutely fascinated me. I would follow these little paths for ages.
It was a bit of a worry to my mother, this passion I was developing for the sea. She would lay down the law about not going into the water without an adult being present. My little Fijian friends and I would be round eyed with innocence and promise faithfully…shoes and sun bonnet were abandoned under the first bush we came across, to be collected on the return journey. Clothes were abandoned on the beach. Returning home, I would be closely questioned. Vigorous denials were to no avail. My mother hadn’t come down in the last shower…she licked my skin and the horrible truth was out…those were the first hidings I remember too.
Another pastime, that will always be remembered as a lot of fun. My little friends and I would wait by the railway tracks for the returning train from Lautoka. Choosing our spot with care, we would line up and call out “Keke…Keke!” (“Cake…Cake!”) to the passengers on board. When the train passed, we would collect our booty, pick off all the bits of grass etc and scamper down to the beach to have a feast. Heaven only knows what the passengers thought when they saw a little white child in the midst of the begging throng, shouting just as loudly as anyone…my mother was horrified when she got to hear about it.